EGD News #24

It’s Joakim here. Greetings from Helsinki. Lockdown is in week four.

This week we had the Pocket Gamer panel on Company Culture. I was moderating and the panelists where Paul Barnes from App Annie, Callum Brighting from Netspeak Games, Sophie Vo from Voodoo, Gwen Guo from Imba Interactive, and Jaakko Kylmäoja from Fingersoft.

Biggest takeaways for me were:

  • Definition for a great culture Put the focus on the people, then make sure they know the context and the why, the purpose for the people to be there.
  • “I want people to very quickly work out if they belong here or not. We’re not going to get it right 100% of the time. We’re going to make mistakes in our hiring pipeline, for sure. And I want people that we bring into very quickly be able to work out like ‘Ah, this isn’t the place for me. I don’t feel like I couldn’t belong’. So that’s our internal emotion metric.” — Callum Brighting
  • Paul Barnes talked about the fact that leaders don’t own the culture. Still, they can influence it by setting up a group of core people from different levels of the organization who discuss and talk freely about the current culture. You find out what the culture is today. This core group can become the evangelists of the culture.
  • First-time founders might not think that mission and core values are essential. But the fact is that people come and go, but the company will stay. The company is an entity of its own.
  • Pillars of the community. Boss factors. People who are essential for the organization, both in-process and progress, but also culture. If they leave, they might take a part of the company with them. Callum has seen cultures fall apart like that. He points out that you need to un-silo these kinds of people.
  • Companies should create a communication culture. That will build trust.
  • “Reminding of the values and having people acting for us, I would say it’s the most important thing when the company scales and the words themselves don’t mean much but how people behave. It’s more important how we act as a team. The culture and the rituals are very specific to teams, and they don’t have to be normalized across the organization.” — Sophie Vo
  • Gwen talked about the culture fit in hiring isn’t always necessary. Gwen says that “we want to groom you to become a nice person.” And you can achieve cultural change by hiring people who aren’t gamers. These people can introduce lots of experimentation techniques to the company.
  • Paul highlights issues with someone who doesn’t fit the company values. Maybe they have killer skills that are really required for the company. Is your culture strong enough to say no to these kinds of hires? It’s a really interesting test of leadership. See how people manage that. Callum admits that he let the wrong hire happen twice that he didn’t react to the wrong hire immediately, and that it took nine months to correct the damage it did to the culture. In the other case, it was a permanent change that he wasn’t happy about.

The Pocket Gamer crew will be posting the video to this panel in 1-2 months. I’ll be posting a link to the video on the newsletter once it’s available.

Blog

7 Ways A Gaming Startup Can Show Traction — When I meet startup founders for the first time, the most common appearance in those discussions is the lack of a concise summary of the progress that the company has made in pursuing their business. Often in gaming, founders are going after a cool gaming idea, and they don’t have much evidence on the idea actually working.

You are doing a disservice to your efforts if you can’t map out and check out the progress you are making. In this blog post, I talk about how game developers can measure progress and communicate about the progress they are making to potential investors.

You can read the article here.

Podcast

VC by founders — In this podcast episode, I have a talk with Eric Lagier, the managing partner of byFounders.

They’ve invested in Starberry Games, Utopos Games, Dazzle Rocks, and many others. With Eric, we talk about decision making, giving feedback to founders and how byFounders is different from other VCs out there.

Topics that we discuss include:

  • What is the byFounders way of helping founders?
  • You built a career in tech in the Bay Area. What do you see as the main things that Nordic startups can learn from the scene in the Valley?
  • What are the things that you get excited about when you meet founders for the first time?
  • What does your decision-making process look like?

EGD News on the blog

We’ve covered many topics in the past on the newsletter, so we wanted to make them available for newer followers. So what we did is we added all the previous EGD Newsletters as blog posts.

You can check them out from here.


Articles Worth Reading

+ Salary Transparency — I love Buffer. It’s one of those companies that I would have wanted to be involved in. Not because of their product or industry. I’m fascinated by the culture that the founders have sought after to build. And how they won’t give up on innovating on transparency.

+ Tencent built PUBG Mobile in four months — Their director, Rick Li, details the strategic choices that made it possible. They recruited top talent. They used separate studios to establish dedicated teams for each problematic feature. They built the game for high-end devices first and then worked backward to optimize for less capable devices. They employed separate teams in different time zones to accelerate development.

+ Remote Office on Discord — I had Seth Sivak from Proletariat on the podcast a while again. Here’s the episode. On his blog, he’s sharing their ways of dealing with the coronavirus lockdown and remote work. Especially the details on how they’ve recreated their office on Discord for the whole team to experience are super exciting.

+ Discord channel for your team — Continuing on Seth’s post, Mobidictum.biz just announced a short guide about how to set up a Discord channel for your team who’s working remotely. Check it out here.

Quote that I’m thinking about

“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break, it kills.” — Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms (1929)